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A Vision for Maternal and Infant Care, One Mother and Baby at a Time

From September 15th to October 6th, more than 160 world leaders have descended on New York to gather at the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations. They are addressing the world’s most pressing issues, and establishing the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will carry the work done towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) past 2015. The goal to eradicate preventable maternal and child mortality has been a key focus at UNGA 2015.

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Terri Bresenham (right), President of Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, speaking with Christian Paradis, Member of the Canadian Parliament for Megantic – L’Erable, in New York.

Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation, said: “Every day, around 800 women die in pregnancy and childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. However, maternal mortality worldwide has been reduced by almost 50% between 1990 and 2013, due in part to the Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000, and also to the continued innovation and investment in all aspects of healthcare in the developing world, from technology to infrastructure to clinician training. The new 2030 Sustainable Development Goals provide an unprecedented opportunity to unite all stakeholders in the health ecosystem, including major private sector players like GE, to drive long-lasting change.”

Terri Bresenham, President of the newly announced Sustainable Healthcare Solutions (SHS) unit that will see $300 million invested in the development of GE’s affordable technologies portfolio, has reiterated GE’s global commitment to reducing preventable maternal and newborn mortality, a goal her company has been striving towards for many years.

“Improving outcomes for mothers and babies around the world extends well beyond their immediate families, but in fact benefits entire communities,” said Bresenham at the assembly. “To accomplish this, we must come together as a global community to find solutions. As a major private sector partner, GE Healthcare is proud to collaborate with the UN Foundation’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative and the new Global Financing Facility, part of the UN’s Global Strategy to help close the global financing gap for investments in maternal, adolescent and child health.”

As it stands, the work done by GE Healthcare has been, and will continue to be, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, a point that Bresenham reiterated at the Assembly.

A number of programs and partnerships have been implemented across the world through collaborations with governments and NGOs, with the aim of improving maternal and infant mortality globally, but this week’s talks in New York will in particular see the Every Woman Every Child commitment renewed and strengthened.

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To name but a few GE partner initiatives, a new NICU modernization pilot program in low-resource rural settings in Ethiopia,   a co-developed telemedicine solution with Universitas Indonesia, a $20million commitment announced at WEF Africa 2014 for Nigeria, and the continued work of the GE Foundation with UNICEF to implement mobile health technology are having a huge impact on global health.

Since 2004, more than $120 million has been invested in over 254 hospitals and health centers throughout Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, helping to improve more than 15 million lives. Going forward, a collaborative approach with non-government organizations (NGOs) is more important than ever as countries seek to deliver on the new SDGs for 2030.

A continued focus on the development of mobile health technologies in particular is essential to help caregivers improve the quality of their care.

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“With almost 30 million patient lives touched each year by GE Healthcare’s portfolio of maternal and infant care solutions, including ultrasound, GE’s approach combines relevant and affordable technologies, training and education, with innovative business models, financing and multi-lateral partnerships,” added Bresenham.

Come 2030, the ambitious goal to eradicate preventable mother and child deaths could be well within reach.